Suffolk County Superior Court in MassachusettsSuffolk County Superior Court /
Suffolk County Courthouse

14th Floor
3 Pemberton Square
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 788-8160
Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday
8:30 am – 4:30 pm.

Criminal Cases in the Superior Court

 

The Suffolk County Superior Court, also known as Suffolk Superior Court and Suffolk County Grand Jury, has jurisdiction over all crimes in Suffolk County and has exclusive jurisdiction over first degree murder cases in the county.

In the Massachusetts trial courts system, the Suffolk Superior Court is considered a court of general jurisdiction, meaning it hears both criminal and civil actions.

Criminal cases in Suffolk County Superior Court begin with an indictment. An indictment is a document listing all charges for which a grand jury has found probable cause for the prosecution to proceed against you. An indictment by a grand jury simply means they believed probable cause existed; it is not a finding of guilt.

In the event of a grand jury indictment, the accused will be notified in writing by the commonwealth of the indictment charges and the date set for arraignment, at which time the defendant must appear in the Suffolk Superior Court (first appearance.)

First Degree Murder Cases in Suffolk Superior Court

Homicide cases the Court hears include murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree as well as manslaughter. The Court has exclusive original jurisdiction over first degree homicides. In order to prove a case for conviction of first degree murder, the jury will need to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the state proved all of the following elements:

  • The defendant caused the death of the victim,
  • The defendant intended to kill,
  • The defendant committed the homicide with deliberate premeditation,
  • The defendant did not act in any proper means of self-defense, and
  • There were no mitigating circumstances.

First degree murder is often called premeditated murder because premeditation is the primary element separating strict first degree from lesser classes of homicide such as felony-murder and second degree.

To convict on second degree, the jury must find beyond a reasonable doubt that the state proved each of the following:

  • The defendant caused the death of the victim,
  • The defendant either:
    • intended to kill, OR
    • intended to cause grievous bodily harm, OR
    • intended to do an act which, in the circumstances known to him, a reasonable person would have known created a plain and strong likelihood that death would result;
  • The defendant did not act in any proper means of self-defense, and
  • There were no mitigating circumstances.

Another defense to both first and second degree charges in addition to defending one’s self is if death results during the course of defending another from imminent harm.

How to Appear in Suffolk Superior Court

Individuals charged with any felony matter are typically required to appear for each court date with their attorney. In all Court appearances, it is crucial that you leave and arrive early so you appear in Court on time.

In addition, you should:

  • Make childcare arrangements so you do not have to bring your child/ren to Court.
  • Always be respectful in Court, and address the judge as “your honor.”
  • Wear clean and professional clothing.
  • Not wear any hats, sunglasses or earbuds upon entering the courtroom.
  • Talk with your attorney before each appearance so you know exactly where to go.
  • Ensure you have transportation to and from the courthouse.
  • Ensure you have money for parking garage fees if driving.

All personal electronic devices must be turned off and out-of-site upon entering the Courthouse. You are allowed to bring your phone, but it must be set to silent mode, and cannot be visible while inside a courtroom.

Suffolk County Judicial District

Suffolk County encompasses the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop, over which the Suffolk Superior Court holds judicial jurisdiction.

The Suffolk County Superior Court is in the county seat of Boston, and The Honorable Judith Fabricant is Chief Justice.

 

Court and County Government Information 

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Suffolk Superior Court